By Rob Borkowski
WARWICK, RI — Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation announced the Warwick Fire Department will receive a $633,789 grant for a new rescue truck, part of $1,113,758 in federal funding awarded to the city, Little Compton, North Kingstown, and Woonsocket.
On Thursday, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline announced the grants for Warwick’s new truck and to help North Kingstown, Little Compton, and Woonsocket fire departments upgrade essential equipment.
The federal funds were awarded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program, according to an announcement from Sen. Jack Reed’s office. AFG grants are designed to supply critically needed equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training, and other resources necessary to protect local communities. Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation helped include a total of $350 million for AFG firefighter equipment grants in the 2018 Omnibus Appropriations law.
The WFD will purchase a new, tandem-axle heavy duty rescue vehicle that will replace a dated, 26-year-old medium duty model that responded to over 1,600 incidents in 2016 alone. The new heavy duty vehicle will help firefighters with extrications, large vehicle stabilization, Advanced Life Support (ALS) medical response, surface and shoreline water rescue, rope rescue, confined space rescue, trench rescue and structural firefighting.
The North Kingstown Fire Department will use its $268,605 grant to replace its outdated Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) currently in use by firefighters. The purchase includes new SCBA units, SCBA bottles, and face pieces. The equipment will be used by firefighters during emergency response situations to ensure safe breathing amid fires and other situations involving toxic air quality.
The Little Compton Fire Department is receiving a regional $211,364 grant alongside the Woonsocket Fire Department to purchase new power cots, which are battery operated stretchers capable of lifting very heavy patients, incorporated with a hydraulic lift system that loads/unloads the power cot from the ambulance. The goal of the purchase is to reduce injuries to the department’s firefighter/EMTs, increase the safety of patients by decreasing cot drop incidents, and enhance the department’s operability throughout the region.
“It is critical that our firefighters possess quality tools that are suitable to meet the grueling demands of their profession,” said Langevin, a senior member of the Committee on Homeland Security, which oversees the AFG program. “These highly competitive federal grants will help protect the health and safety of our first responders and the communities they serve.”
“I am very grateful to Senators Reed and Whitehouse and Congressman Langevin for their hard work to secure us the funding for this very necessary apparatus,” said Warwick Mayor Joseph J. Solomon. “The safety and well-being of all who live and work in our community and who travel through Warwick each year is of paramount importance to me and our public safety officials. This heavy-duty rescue vehicle will further ensure that we are able to respond to any crisis quickly and effectively. We are very fortunate to have a Congressional delegation that advocates so strongly for Rhode Island’s emergency responders and work tirelessly for our communities. I look forward to their continued support in the future for similar efforts to assure the ongoing safety of T.F. Green International Airport’s travelers and our community overall. ”
“Our emergency responders deserve access to the best equipment possible so they can do their jobs safely and effectively. This funding will not only benefit our firefighters, but all Rhode Islanders,” said Cicilline.
“These federal funds will help enhance public safety, improve emergency response capabilities, and provide our firefighters with the resources and equipment they need,” said Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee that oversees FEMA funding. “I am grateful to our firefighters for the life-saving work they do and I will continue working hard at the federal level to support them and help them get the job done safely and effectively.”
“These grants will help equip our first responders with cutting-edge gear to do their job safely and effectively,” said Whitehouse. “We’re grateful for everything they do to keep our communities safe.”